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The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? [Hardcover]

Paul Davies
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Sep 2006
"The Goldilocks Enigma" is Paul Davies spectacular and eagerly awaited return to cosmology. Here he tackles all the 'big questions' and introduces the latest discoveries that have allowed scientists to piece together the story of the universe in unprecedented detail. And he explains why, despite all this, cosmologists are more divided than ever. Why is everything just right for life on earth? And how have we tried to explain this? How has belief shaped the scientific debate? What do we really know about our place in the universe? Paul Davies decodes the real science and gets to the very heart of our understanding of the universe.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; First Edition edition (28 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713998830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713998832
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 342,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Paul Davies' Cosmic Jackpot is a truly mesmerizing book, no matter which you universe you may inhabit!" --Michio Kaku, prof. of theoretical physics, author of Hyperspace and Parallel Worlds --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Paul Davies has achieved an international reputation for his ability to explain the significance of advanced scientific ideas in simple language. He is the author of some twenty books, including Superforce, God and the New Physics, The Mind of God, The Last Three Minutes, Are We Alone? and How to Build a Time Machine. Paul Davies has also written and presented a number of TV and radio programmes and has won the prestigious Templeton Prize, the world's largest award for intellectual endeavour, and a Glaxo Science Writers' Fellowship.

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First Sentence
For thousands of years, human beings have contemplated the world about them and asked the great questions of existence: Why are we here? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a review of cosmology and particle physics during the past fifty years - surely one of the most exciting periods for the two subjects. Davies offers his personal interpretation of the current position - the hope that "mind" will turn out to be a crucial part of the universe and not just a minor, un-important side-effect of creation.

New instruments and fresh ideas have produced a wealth of interesting ideas. Some theories might, in earlier times, have been regarded as merely speculative or over ambitious. However, improvements in observational methods and technology have given us clear windows into some surprising areas. Davies looks at some huge questions about very small things, such as how many fundamental particles make up the world? He also examines the very large: is there just one universe, or a huge number of parallel creations, a multiverse?

At every turn he explains things clearly and non-mathematically. This does mean that the reader sometimes has to take things on trust, but one of the great strengths of his book is that Paul Davies is careful to point out which ideas are controversial or tentative, and which are firmly established. He presents us with results from physics and discusses the implications for theology, mathematics and philosophy. He tells the story of a very busy period in science and guides the reader through complex, unresolved debates. For those who want to look deeper, he includes many detailed notes, but grouped at the end of his book to avoid breaking the flow of his narrative.

I found this an exciting and challenging book to read. I heartily recommend it to anyone who is interested in big questions and is willing to live with the fact that many of the answers can't be summed up in a tabloid headline.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A deep book on a deep subject. 7 Nov 2006
In his latest book Paul Davies explores rather than definitively answers the deep questions of existance. Why are we here? Why is the universe fine tuned for life and what relationship does consciousness have to the universe at large? The reader is taken on a truly cosmic tour of physics in the attempt to answer some of these fascinating questions.
The first part of the book seeks to explain why the universe possesses certain characteristics and explores various theories such as inflation theory, the big bang,quantum fluctuations and the four fundamental forces,gravitation,electromagnetism,and the weak and strong nuclear forces. He then explains how physicist are seeking to unify these forces of nature into one Grand unified Theory which leads onto String theory and its further development M theory. At this point the reader will feel that they have left the familiar world of common sense. Davies explores the implications of String theory and M theory which posits a number of unobserved dimensions. This eventually leads to the idea that we are living in a multiverse, the concept that trillions of other universes exist and this is why we are so fortuitous in this one.We have won the cosmic lottery and although our universe is fit for life, trillions of others are sterile. If this mind blowing idea is not enough, the possibility is also explored that we are living in a fake universe. An infinity of other universes greatly increases the chances that an intellect could have evolved way beyond anything that we could possibly comprehend. Further it is argued this intellect could have the capability to simulate a universe,ideas that were explored in the film The Matrix.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searching for the ultimate answers 6 Dec 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of Davies'bes t books, clear, informative, and profound. It give us the state of the art of modern cosmology, and of the current theories about the Universe (or Multiverse) origins and evolution, in the light of a puzzling series of coincidences: this Universe seems fine-tuned to permit life, the most intriguing case the helium-beryllium resonance, that permits the synthesis of carbon, the basic element of life. A small difference in the nuclear particle's masses or in the relative strenght of the forces and life simply couldn't be. Davies examines thoroughly a range of possible answers,from the Multiverse Theory, to the Theory of Everything-single -Universe-Theory, to Intelligent design,to String Theory to the Matrix hypothesis-we could live in a simulation!, to Davies' favourite, the self-organizing universe.

A fascinating insight on human speculation on Life, the Universe and Everything.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By Jazzrook TOP 500 REVIEWER
'The Goldilocks Enigma' is the successor to Paul Davies's 'The Mind of God'(1992) and is a fascinating and accessible account of the current state of cosmology and fundamental physics. The author employs scientific reason to tackle all the 'big questions' such as Where do the laws of physics come from? Is a theory of everything possible? How did the universe begin? What happened before the big bang? Is there just one universe or many? In particular, he focuses on why the laws of physics seem to be fine tuned to produce life in the universe. If any of the various physical forces had been slightly different our universe could now be lifeless. One possible expanation for this is the multiverse theory with billions of different universes each with varying physical constants. We just happen to live in a universe that's 'just right' for life. Hence 'The Goldilocks Enigma'.

This marvellous book is a must-read for anyone attempting to gain some understanding of 'life, the universe and everything'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit too deep
A bit too deep for me, but not a bad read. Nice to get it finished though. Ian Knox uk
Published 5 months ago by Ian knox
3.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, if rather dense and abstruse at times
This is a thorough, if sometimes rather dense, account of current cosmological thinking about the origins, nature and eventual fate of the universe. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jeremy Bevan
5.0 out of 5 stars An important source of books for me
Getting these "specialist" books is vital and this was as I hoped. I will be using this again and again. Thanks
Published 12 months ago by Liam P Bradley
4.0 out of 5 stars The road to panentheism
"The Goldilocks Enigma" (a.k.a. "Cosmic Jackpot") is an interesting book by Paul Davies, the maverick quantum physicist who dialogues with theologians. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2011 by Ashtar Command
2.0 out of 5 stars The Inappropriate Subtitle Enigma
I was very disappointed overall with this book. The first four chapters are essentially an introduction to cosmology and particle physics and I found these chapters to be... Read more
Published on 17 Oct 2011 by C. Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars A facinating read at the start but strays away from fact later on.
This is a masterpiece of mind-expanding non-fiction. Paul introduces you gently and lucidly to the unbelievable wonders of the universe and how it seems to be tailor-made to... Read more
Published on 6 May 2010 by Richard H
5.0 out of 5 stars The Anthropic Principle and all that
The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the universe just right for life? by Paul Davies, Penguin, 2007, 368 ff.

The Anthropic Principle and all that
By Howard A. Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2010 by Dr. H. A. Jones
1.0 out of 5 stars Better off with 'Fabric Of The Cosmos'
I bought this book along with The Fabric of The Cosmos by Brian Greene which I read first. I found it very interesting, entertaining and well presented. Read more
Published on 25 Sep 2009 by Justin Smyth
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond six numbers
Although I had reservations about this book, overall it was well worth the read. It managed both to be an easy read but at the same time thought-provoking and challenging... Read more
Published on 31 July 2009 by I. Holton
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what it says on the cover
As a "popular science" review of current cosmology and physics, it works well, albeit anyone with an interest in these subjects will have read most of this material elsewhere. Read more
Published on 25 April 2009 by Sailor
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